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Donald Trump and children are sued by New York attorney general for fraud

World Sep 21, 2022 05:56PM ET
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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Former U.S. president Donald Trump speaks during a rally in Youngstown, Ohio, U.S., September 17, 2022. REUTERS/Gaelen Morse/File Photo

By Karen Freifeld, Jonathan Stempel and Luc Cohen

NEW YORK (Reuters) -Donald Trump, his family business, and three of his adult children were sued on Wednesday by New York's attorney general, who accused them of overvaluing the former U.S. president's assets and net worth through a decade of lies to banks and insurers.

Attorney General Letitia James filed her civil lawsuit in a New York state court in Manhattan, accusing the Trump Organization of "numerous acts of fraud and misrepresentation" in preparing financial statements from 2011 to 2021.

She also said Trump, who has long used his net worth to burnish his image and fame as a successful businessman and politician, inflated his wealth by billions of dollars to help his company obtain favorable financial terms on transactions, including lower interest rates and cheaper insurance coverage.

The 214-page complaint also names Trump's adult children Donald Trump Jr, Eric Trump and Ivanka Trump as defendants, as well as longtime company executives including former Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg.

The lawsuit adds to the many legal problems Trump faces.

These include a criminal probe in Georgia over his efforts to undo the 2020 presidential election, and a federal investigation into his handling of presidential records, prompting an FBI search of Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate on Aug. 8.

The Trump Organization manages hotels, golf courses and other real estate around the world, and had been under investigation by James for more than three years.

James, a Democrat, said the values of 23 assets had been "grossly and fraudulently inflated," and her office uncovered more than 200 examples of misleading asset valuations.

Those assets included marquee properties such as Mar-a-Lago in Florida and Trump's penthouse apartment atop Manhattan's Trump Tower, James said. The lawsuit seeks to recoup at least $250 million of alleged improper gains.

"Claiming that you have money that you do not have does not amount to the 'art of the deal,' it's the art of the steal," James told a news conference, alluding to Donald Trump's 1987 memoir. She called the "pattern of fraud and deception" used by Trump and the Trump Organization "astounding."

Trump, in a statement posted on Truth Social, called the lawsuit "Another Witch Hunt by a racist Attorney General" who was pursuing the case for political gain.

James is Black and running for reelection in November. Trump has not announced whether he will run for president in 2024, but would likely be a Republican frontrunner.

While the case does not involve criminal charges, James said Trump repeatedly violated several state criminal laws and may have violated federal criminal law, and asked U.S. prosecutors and the Internal Revenue Service to investigate.

A spokesman for U.S. Attorney Damian Williams in Manhattan declined to comment.

'DISASTERS OF THE WORLD'

James wants to remove the Trumps from power at their company, and prohibit Trump and his adult children from serving as corporate officers or directors in New York.

She also wants to install a monitor for the Trump Organization, and bar the company and Trump from buying commercial real estate in New York or borrowing money from state-chartered banks for five years.

The lawsuit said Trump's scheme was designed to fraudulently induce banks to lend money more cheaply, coax insurers into provide coverage for higher limits at lower premiums, and obtain tax benefits.

James said Trump pretended his Trump Tower apartment was 30,000 square feet, when it was actually 10,996 square feet, and that its $327 million valuation in 2015 was "absurd" because no New York City apartment had sold for $100 million at the time.

She also said Trump valued Mar-a-Lago as high as $739 million by pretending it could be developed for residential use, and that it should have been valued closer to $75 million.

James said her office rejected settlement offers from the defendants, but "our doors are always open" for negotiations.

She said Trump could try to move his company or borrow elsewhere, but that would not excuse him from his obligations in New York.

"There cannot be different rules for different people in this country or state, and former presidents are no different," James said.

The attorney general opened her probe after Michael Cohen, who was Trump's lawyer and fixer before turning on him, said in congressional testimony that the former president had inflated some asset values to save money on loans and insurance.

Trump was called to testify under oath at a Aug. 10 deposition for the probe, where he invoked his right against self-incrimination under the U.S. Constitution's Fifth Amendment more than 400 times.

"The Attorney General's Office has exceeded its statutory authority by prying into transactions where absolutely no wrongdoing has taken place," Alina Habba, a lawyer for Trump, said in a statement, calling the accusations "meritless."

Donald Trump Jr tweeted that James was "weaponizing her office to go after her political opponents!"

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg has separately charged the Trump Organization with criminal tax fraud, and is preparing for an Oct. 24 trial.

Weisselberg has pleaded guilty and is expected to testify against the company, which has pleaded not guilty.

"Our criminal investigation concerning former President Donald J. Trump, the Trump Organization, and its leadership is active and ongoing," Bragg said in a statement.

Donald Trump and children are sued by New York attorney general for fraud
 

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Comments (11)
gab nea
gab nea Sep 23, 2022 8:25AM ET
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the crazy trump Republicans dont care about their dear leader's egregious crimes, tax evasion, stealing classified documents, violent overturning of elections. yet they get their undies tied in a knot, if a democrat uses emails improperly, or a poor black man robs food from Cvs
gab nea
gab nea Sep 22, 2022 6:49AM ET
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the noose is tightening around the crime family's necks! run for your lives! were they planning on moving to russia like Snowden with the classified documents? too late, we got them back! traitor!
gab nea
gab nea Sep 22, 2022 6:49AM ET
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Donald has been a criminal all his life, doesn't pay his contractors, tenant discriminatory like his father, grabs women you know where! was a democrat all his life till he found you, a duped new comer and he succeeded. now the time has come to face the music!
Rudolph Docauer
Rudolph Docauer Sep 21, 2022 10:11PM ET
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This New York attorney general has nothing except for a big mouth and someone telling her to create a Witch Hut once again blowing more taxpayer money.
Alejandro Pieroni
Alejandro Pieroni Sep 21, 2022 10:11PM ET
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Yeah, sure….and russia is winning, patetic loser
gab nea
gab nea Sep 21, 2022 10:11PM ET
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I do not hear you say that donnie didnt steal the documents, nor he doesn't lie, nor he doesn't grift, nada, you just call people names. sad low intelligence!
First Last
First Last Sep 21, 2022 10:11PM ET
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gab nea   He's just channeling the loser Trump
Maximus Maximus
Maximus Maximus Sep 21, 2022 6:20PM ET
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the trump crime family is going down. traitors, grifters and criminals have no place in free society
Warm Camp
Warm Camp Sep 21, 2022 5:55PM ET
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Political persecution. Exactly as it is done in Russia and Myanmar.
Maximus Maximus
Maximus Maximus Sep 21, 2022 5:55PM ET
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you have no idea what you're talking about. the US is nothing like russia and myanmar. those are repressive anti-democratic authoritarian regimes, with nasty murderous dictators-for-life on top. in the US, any idiot can get elected to power every 4 years
Steven ML
Steven ML Sep 21, 2022 2:50PM ET
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Trump is a fraudster? What's next? Water is wet? Poo stinks?
Scott Faries
Scott Faries Sep 21, 2022 2:46PM ET
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What a joke this Nazi Socialist Government is... Continued weaponizing of the Justice Department and the FBI to continuously attack political opponents... I have lost the little bit of confidence and respect I had for the US government completely... Hillary Clinton had a ILLEGAL SEVER with TOP SECRET information on it in her HOUSE! AND Hunter Biden criminal and treasonous activities were wept under the rug... So corrupt...
Maximus Maximus
Maximus Maximus Sep 21, 2022 2:46PM ET
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following putlers playbook i see, calling anyone standing in the way of your fascist agenda a "nazi"
Rad Chad
FeeFiFoFum Sep 21, 2022 1:28PM ET
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Letitia James...now insert all derogatory terms the moderators will block
First Last
First Last Sep 21, 2022 1:28PM ET
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Name-calling is so retrumplican.
Rad Chad
FeeFiFoFum Sep 21, 2022 1:28PM ET
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Rad Chad
FeeFiFoFum Sep 21, 2022 1:28PM ET
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First Last  I don't do trump.  But I know a witch hunt when I see it
Mary Mullin
Mary Mullin Sep 21, 2022 1:28PM ET
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do you know how to write?
Scott Faries
Scott Faries Sep 21, 2022 1:17PM ET
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Continued Gestapo weaponizing the system against political opponents... What about Hunter Biden??? Really!!? Hillary Clinton server with top secret information at her house???? 🙄
First Last
First Last Sep 21, 2022 1:17PM ET
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Whataboutism!
Mary Mullin
Mary Mullin Sep 21, 2022 1:17PM ET
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First Last Last: is Whataboutism a word?
First Last
First Last Sep 21, 2022 1:17PM ET
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Mary Mullin   "According to lexicographer Ben Zimmer,[12] the term originated in the United Kingdom and Ireland in the 1970s" -- wiki
First Last
First Last Sep 21, 2022 12:17PM ET
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carlos:  What charges were brought against the Bidens during Trump's term?
John Hill
John Hill Sep 21, 2022 12:17PM ET
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WOW! The fact is liberal media and the Democrat party fought all the way to hide the criminally insane Biden family escapades. Anyone who can't see that isn't interested in truth.
First Last
First Last Sep 21, 2022 12:17PM ET
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John Hill   You can believe the Democrats had that much power when the retrumplicans held all 3 branches of gov't, or that there wasn't enough there to make a case in court, or that the Trump admin was too incompetent to prosecute, or that Trump was in bed w/ that corruption.
Tre Hsi
Tre Hsi Sep 21, 2022 12:17PM ET
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John Hill  "Anyone who can't see that isn't interested in truth."  -- is that what you are, interested in truth?  yeah OK, time to dive back into more Q websites for your truth
 
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